Impacts of land use change on landscape patterns in mountain human settlement: The case study of Hantai District (Shaanxi, China)

Abstract

Mountain area is an important geographical unit of land, and its ecology is sensitive and fragile. Over the past few decades, human activities have caused dramatic changes in land use in mountainous areas, which caused changes in landscape patterns and impacts on the ecological environment. It is unknown how the mechanism of land use affects the landscape pattern at different scales. The Hantai District, a typical human settlement in the mountain area in Shaanxi, China, was chosen as the study area. Based on the remote sensing images, the mathematical models and landscape indexes were adopted to evaluate the impact of land use change from 1998 to 2017 on the landscape pattern at different scales, and its main driving forces were analyzed. The results showed that the urbanized land expanded largest from 15.39% to 24.30%, and cultivated land experienced the largest decline from 43.54% to 35.35%. Changes in land use have made the patch morphology of most land types developed from a natural random to a sawtooth shape, and its spatial pattern evolved from a ruleset to a fragmented expansion. This reflects the continuous strengthening of human intervention in the process of regional development. Under the jurisdiction of Hantai District, the biggest change in landscape pattern is in Hanzhong City and Qili Town. The improved economy and increasing population and urbanization rate were the main factors that cause these changes. This research could provide necessary information for understanding the evolution mechanism of land resources in mountainous human settlements for mountainous areas with significant geomorphic differentiation.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by Natural Science Foundation of China (51378067), the Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi (806215594019).

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Correspondence to Lei Wang.

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Wang, L., Wu, L. & Zhang, W. Impacts of land use change on landscape patterns in mountain human settlement: The case study of Hantai District (Shaanxi, China). J. Mt. Sci. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-020-6236-7

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Keywords

  • Land use change
  • Land cover change
  • Landscape pattern evolution
  • Transition trend
  • Driving force
  • Mountain regions
  • Hantai District